Everyone is talking about the role Black voters, and especially Black women, played in this week’s stunning victory for Doug Jones. It’s time to do more than talk about it. It’s time to go all in to support Black voters, candidates, and campaigners across the South in 2018 — leaders like Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida.

Here’s why. The deep South has many nicknames such as “redneck country,” “the bible belt,” “klan country,” and so many other misnomers that only consider the South’s rabid history of racism and white supremacy. But it’s also my home! Because of the white supremacist history and slow progress, progressives often view the South as worse than states like California and New York, even though racism and white supremacy are strong in those coastal states too. We in the South are ultimately forgotten and left behind.

Growing up as a little black girl in Philadelphia, Mississippi, my mama made a point to educate me about the strength and persistence of the many civil rights leaders from the south, including my cousin, Fannie Lou Hamer. I embarked on my own organizing career following college, and made the decision to return to my home state with organizing, movement building, and revolution in mind.

I was also aware of the attitude towards people like me: Black women.I knew that no matter how many degrees I accomplished or how knowledgeable I am about any subject, I would always be perceived as not knowing enough, and I’m not alone.I am one of many on a mission to transform the deep South, and exercise the rights so many of our ancestors fought to protect.

Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum are on the same mission right now in Georgia and Florida. Will you stand with me on this mission — and support two amazing Black candidates for governor? Chip in $3 or more to help DFA elect Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida.

Black progressive voters have been overlooked and left behind by big national organizations and funders with resources that could help propel the South toward a progressive future. Perceived abandonment of Southern Black voters by alleged allies has forced action in a way this country has never seen.

We witnessed Black women show up in droves to secure the election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate, continuing to erase the norm of racism and white supremacy from Southern politics. This was not the first time, as Black voters have shown up to vote for a change in a slew of Southern cities at a growing rate.

History was made in Alabama just last year, as nine Black women were elected to critical judicial positions in Jefferson County. Aramis Ayala is another Black woman trailblazer elected in 2016 to serve as the chief prosecutor of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida. This year, the movement continued as Randall Woodfin, a young progressive Black man, was elected as Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. Transformative leadership is blazing through the South as Chokwe Lumumba, one of the most progressive candidates Mississippi has ever seen, was elected as Mayor of Jackson earlier this year.

Most recently, we witnessed LaToya Cantrell become the first Black woman Mayor of New Orleans. Cycle after cycle, Black women have shown up at the ballot box to ensure change not only in policy, but also in representation. We are at a pivotal time in American history, where we have the pen to rewrite the wrongs of racist leadership. This movement, led by Black voters and their perseverance, can continue through electing more Black leaders like Andrew Gillum, candidate for Governor of Florida, and Stacey Abrams, candidate for Governor of Georgia.

Governor is one of the most revered positions in a Southern state, but historically out of reach for a Black woman or man. Once elected, Andrew Gillum would become the first Black governor in Florida’s history — and Stacey Abrams will become the first Black woman governor ever elected in the country, continuing this movement of hope in leadership. Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams are the next phase of this transformative movement as trailblazers for real change, democracy, and equity. They are the faces of change in the South the world needs to see. As a Black woman, devoting my career to change in the South took little thought, and supporting Black voters takes little thought when we represent the change so desperately needed in this country. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer: “I don’t want to hear you say, ‘Honey, I’m behind you.’ Well, move. I don’t want you back there because you could be two hundred miles behind. I want you to say, ‘I’m with you’, and we’ll go up this freedom road together.”

Support Black voters and Black leadership! Help DFA elect Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum in 2018. Thank you for helping elect these amazing leaders.- Jessica Jessica Carter, Organizing Manager and Mississippi resident.
–Democracy for America

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